Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the obligatory belly shot

even I didn't know it was this big! i'm only 25 weeks...oh dear.

Monday, September 27, 2010

when you give a 7 yr old an email address

this is an email i found ari had sent to his old 1st grade teacher....

fromAri Varela
tomrs morgan
dateSun, Sep 26, 2010 at 7:55 AM
subjecti miss you!!!!!!!!!!
mailed-bygmail.com

I miss you Mrs. Morgan! ( Are you notising perfict spelling? )

Ari

Sunday, September 26, 2010

weekly menu

as i planned last week's menu i forgot sonny was leaving out of town thursday morning and when he's not home, we eat whatever we can scrounge up. he is still going to be out of town until thursday of this week so our menu will reflect that.

MONDAY fettucini alfredo
TUESDAY takeout
WEDNESDAY chicken and rice (bumped from last week)
THURSDAY lentil quiche (bumped from last week)
FRIDAY leftovers
SATURDAY chili beans and cornbread (bumped from last week)

the fettucini with roasted vegetable sauce we had last week was really yummy. it can be any pasta and any vegetables, but the main idea is to roast some veggies (in this recipe a red bell pepper, a tomato, and 1/2 an onion) throw them in the blender, add a couple of tbsp. of stock, a few ounces of cream cheese and blend! it's really tasty and very healthful. cook up some whole wheat pasta and slather it on.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

number five

5. teach children what to say and do-just like we teach our children to call 9-1-1, stop, drop, and roll, look both ways when crossing the road, we need to teach them about good and bad touch. we cannot assume they will just know this intuitively. they will not. the book goes on to give examples of games and exercises you can do with your kids to help educate and equip them on this important safety issue. sadly, the truth is, they are much more likely to be confronted with this than ever a fire, medical emergency, or kidnapping.

Friday, September 24, 2010

number four

4. offer opportunities for your children to practice saying "no" -they must have practice and experience with the right of refusal in other areas of life. this is a tough one. we as parents constantly want our children to say YES! we want them to obey, comply, and respect our wishes. we tell them the same when it comes to teachers and other authority figures. i think this is what we should be doing, but we need to keep in mind that there are times we want our children to say no, especially as they gain more independence. so your child is "strong-willed" and "NO!" is their favorite phrase? rejoice! they're getting practice at setting boundaries and saying no to all kinds of unhealthy things:) who knew letting your kid wear the pink shirt and red striped shorts was helping them refuse illegal substances or unwanted physical touch?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

number three

3. teach children how to avoid being lured-children need to be taught what traps to avoid. they need to know that there are children and adults in every neighborhood who have problems and might try to take advantage of kids. they are much less likely to "take the bait" or blame themselves if they are approached and know this. tell kids that if the request...
-feels funny
-seems like it would separate him from the other children
-goes against family rules
-involves a secret
-seems like an unearned "special" favor
they should refuse and seek you out and tell you what happened

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

number two


2. help children develop good sensory awareness-teach them to be in tune to that "uh-oh" feeling in the pit of their stomach or a rapid heartbeat. their body can sense things they would never be able to articulate and if they are taught that these are valuable sensations and to pay attention to them, they may avoid many dangerous situations.

an important piece to this step is practicing how to handle those warnings ahead of time. getting children to recognize those warning signs is a great first step, but then they need to practice their plan of action before being in a paralyzing scenario.
the authors also recommend at this point assuring your child that if something happens that makes them feel yucky, or if someone tells them to keep something secret that you WILL believe them. that you will do whatever it takes to protect them even if a trusted adult is the one that is contradicting their story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

number one

1. model healthy boundaries-no one gets to touch, handle, or look at me in a way that makes me uncomfortable. we all know our children learn the majority of what they believe from observing us, so let's show them we are confident in our limits and take charge of how we are treated in all areas, not just sexually. the example that hit me hardest was that of an infant being held by a relative and exhibiting signs of discomfort...crying, arching back, etc. now, i would always have just let the baby continue being held for fear of hurting the adult's feelings and i would make up some excuse as to why the child was crying. the message i am sending it, those who are bigger, stronger, and older have the power over your body. it is futile for you to express discomfort because it will change nothing. now please don't think i'm saying that you have set your child up for abuse if you've done this (i've done this many times) i'm just trying to give you an example of how children perceive things. they are smaller, weaker, and always at the mercy of adults. if there are times we can give them some control, especially over their bodies, it will go a long way to build their confidence and ability to say "i don't like that."

Monday, September 20, 2010

trauma proofing your kids

this is the meatiest, chewiest, hardest to fully digest book. it took me a year to get all the way through and now i'm starting over because there's so much i wanted to utilize and remember from the first few chapters (heck...the introduction!) that i don't recall. that being said, there is one chapter entitled "sexual violation: reducing the risk and early detection" that i think is so vital, so urgent, that i wanted to share it with you now.

(note: if you want to investigate the signs of a child who may be a victim see pages 136-37, i am going to concentrate on prevention)

i don't know about you, but i am overwhelmed by how many people i know who have been effected by sexual abuse. when i was little the "stranger" was what i feared. the man in the black trench coat who would swoop in while i was on the slide and take me from my mom and dad. turns out, that wasn't what i (or my parents) should've been on the look out for. there are so many hurting people (children and adults) who are looking to act out with a child and the results are devastating. i have seen the destruction of lives who have been scarred by sexual abuse. it is ugly and it is so very difficult to heal from. i want desperately to protect my children from this and i know you do too.

first we need to know who we are protecting them from, and the truth is, over 90% of the time (yes, NINETY) the perpetrator is someone you know. i don't want you to be scared of every person in your life, but if we are looking for the guy in the trench coat, we're going to miss the threat. this adds more injury because when the person is someone the child trusts it confuses them in more ways and adds a layer of betrayal.

unfortunately this issue is not limited to girls, or adolescents. we need to be preparing our children early as they are vulnerable already. and by "preparing", i do not mean we fill them in on all of the ugliness and perversion of the world. there are things we can do, say, and discuss that will give our children a much greater chance at not being victims without stealing their innocence.

there is so much in this chapter and i highly recommend you read it all for yourself, but i am going to summarize one of the five "steps caregivers can take to decrease children's susceptibility" each day this week to give you a good overview of the chapter and active ways you can protect your kids.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

weekly menu

MONDAY grilled chicken, yummy potatoes and veggies (bumped from last week)
TUESDAY chili beans and cornbread (bumped from last week)
WEDNESDAY lentil quiche
THURSDAY Fettuccine with Roasted Vegetable Sauce
FRIDAY Chicken and Rice

again a few recipes are new to us, but the tried and true ones i'm including below if you need a new option for your menu

Yummy Potatoes

1/2 c. butter

1 can cream of chicken soup

3 T. onion

1 pint sour cream

1/2 tsp. Pepper

1 tsp salt

1 c. cheddar cheese, grated

1 large package cubed hash brown potatoes

corn flake crumbs

melt butter, add soup and onion and heat. Add sour cream, salt, pepper and 1/2 cheese. Heat. Mix in potatoes. Sprinkle corn flake crumbs and remaining cheese on top.Bake at 350 degrees 45-60 minutes or until bubbling and brown on top

Chicken and Rice

Sprinkle one envelope of onion soup mix on bottom of a 9x13 pan

Pour one cup rice over soup and place chicken breasts on top of rice

Mix one can cream of chicken soup and one can milk

Stir and pour over the chicken, lifting chicken to fully drench rice

Bake 2 hours at 325 degrees


Friday, September 17, 2010

How does that make you feeeeel.....?

i made these little guys months ago, but everything on life went on hold when i got sick. it's taking me a while, but slowly i am re-instituting all the things i used to do (like cook and clean:). dinner exercises are one of those things that went by the wayside real quick and i am trying to bring back this week. since we've gotta eat, what better time to "sneak in" those life lessons i really want my kids to get? emotions exercises are especially fun with these tongue depressor people but they're not necessary to learning.
i got my little guys at michael's and found the colored pencils at lakeshore learning, but i know crayola sells skin color pencils and markers at plain ol' walmart.
here they are without feelings
and here they are with a black sharpie and my best copying skills from the poster i found here
"answer" on the back
kinda scary, huh?
we like to hold them up and guess what the person is feeling
we also use the feelings on the back and have a member pantomime it while the rest of us guess
you can also lay out 2 or 3 of the sticks and describe a scenario asking family members to choose which feeling they think they might have in response to that situation
happy dinner times!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

menu board

(this beauty was taken from little birdie secrets' blog and they have a great tutorial with step by step instructions here)

a few people have asked how i made the menu boards so here's a quick overview...

12x12 frame
12x12 piece of scrapbook paper
letter stickers

put the paper of your choice in the frame and close it up. i cut the letters out of vinyl with my cricut, but if you don't have a craft cutter you can buy letter stickers to place on the glass. grab a dry erase marker and you're set! and if you ever need a new look just slide in a new piece of scrapbook paper!

meal planning


advance meal planning. we all know its benefits but its not always much fun. i thought i'd copy some of the crafty bloggers and whip up my own menu board and it has livened up my meal planning and made me actually WANT to look at what i need to cook. a big factor in choosing this particular type of board for our family was that it uses a dry-erase marker. see, sometimes my plan doesn't line up with real life. sometimes stuffed zucchini just isn't in the schedule that day and grabbing a hot 'n ready is:) so i just whip out my little marker and make a switcheroo. still meals are planned and ingredients are used, just maybe on a different day.
my friend liz loves paris and just had a birthday so i thought she might like a little flair to her planning as well. have i convinced you yet? meal plan, i tell you!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

wish i had that when i was a kid!


my wonderful teacher friend introduced ari and i to spelling city. i don't know anything more boring than studying spelling words, but that is no longer a problem at our house! spelling city dot com takes your unique spelling list and creates games, puzzles, drills, and even an oral test with the words your child needs to learn. there is a premium membership, but we don't find that necessary and all the practice we're looking for is FREE!
ari gets on the site for 10-15 minutes a day playing games and testing himself. he loves it and it gets me off the hook for those dreaded "practice tests" :) if you have elementary aged kids...you spell your feelings as... T-H-A-N-K-S!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

weekly menu

we all know the benefits of planning your meals for the week. it saves you time, money, extra trips to the grocery store, the infamous "what's for dinner" dilemma at 4:30 p.m. and the desperate drive-thru runs.
i've been practicing this discipline for several weeks now and have been so pleased with the results. in doing so i've been collecting some new recipes to give us variety now that we're eating at home more often. i'm always curious what other people are making for dinner and i thought you might be too! i'm going to start posting my weekly meal plan here in hopes that it may inspire you to create your own menu and maybe even give you some recipe ideas. of course, you are always welcome to pass on your successful recipes to me:)

MONDAY stuffed zucchini
TUESDAY italian crock pot chicken
WEDNESDAY breakfast casserole
THURSDAY grilled chicken, yummy potatoes, and veggies
FRIDAY mexican chili beans and cornbread
SATURDAY pumpkin scones for breakfast and leftovers for dinner

i've made the stuffed zucchini before so i will post the recipe below. as for the new things i'm trying i'll give you the verdict after we've tried them and include the recipe if they were a hit

Stuffed Zucchini

4 zucchini squash, split lengthwise

1 T oil,

1 t minced garlic,

1t salt

1t pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded & chopped

1 lb ground turkey or chicken

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pine nuts or chopped walnuts

Scoop out each zucchini leaving a small amount of flesh in shell. Reserve 1 cup chopped zucchini flesh. Place zucchini halves cut side down in large glass baking dish. Add 1 cup water, cover w/ plastic wrap venting at corner & microwave for 4 mins. In large nonstick skillet, cook 1 cup chopped zucchini flesh, onion, green pepper & garlic in 1 T oil on medium for 5 min. Add meat & brown. Add salt & pepper. Remove from heat & stir in cheese. Fill each zucchini half with stuffing then sprinkle w/ nuts & bake @ 400 for 10 mins. These are wonderful with rice as you can use the overflowing filling to top the rice or eat it on its own.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

go cyclones!

last night the casady football team had some pretty committed fans. sawyer and noah thought the "football teamers" were of NFL caliber and cheered accordingly.
it also helped that they both saw their very own superstar dads on the field...definitely worth more cheering.


Friday, September 10, 2010

a hill o' beans


i thought this wreathe was beautiful. the main ingredient...beans?! weird. i know. but isn't it pretty?
i got right to work so i could have my very own! i gathered necessary supplies...glue gun, styrofoam wreath (dollar tree), bag o' lima beans, tutorial found here, and of course, a big diet coke.
would you like to know the mistakes i made so that you, oh wise one, can avoid them? yes, yes you do. o.k. number one, i thought i could just skip the spray painting step....the beans will cover the green, right? um, no. o.k. then comes the beans. i liked the bigger beans i saw at the store and i thought they would cover the wreath quicker. (are we picking up a pattern on how i like to take the easy route?) they did cover the wreathe quicker, but then more of the styrofoam showed through and i wasn't able to make a nice "pattern" like the tutorial because the beans were so big. if i had painted the foam i think it would've been fine. i'm o.k. with a bit of abstractness, but i shoulda painted. and finally, just know your fingers will get a bit toasty. the pushing of the beans into the hot glue can be a bit messy, if not scalding. BUT, for two bucks and a ribbon i had in my stash i got this and if you don't look too closely, it's kinda pretty.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

when you're dad is a pedicab driver

life is lots more fun! sonny wanted to get a work out in but also spend some time with us so he took us downtown to provide some "resistance" for his cardio work on his pedicab bike. we rode all around bricktown, stopped for some frozen yogurt (the boys and i worked up a sweat sitting in the cab) and even filmed sonny hauling us up a steep hill.




Wednesday, September 1, 2010

nesting, part one

here it is. all ready to go. just needs a little newborn bundle to nestle inside.
my friend melissa was so generous to give me all of her adorable boy crib bedding along with the custom moses basket bedding she had made from the same material. it is so precious and just waiting for a little inhabitant (preferably one that sleeps well:)